Sunday, October 29, 2006

For the record.

I am a moderate libertarian, according to the World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Not that I particularly enjoy linking Michelle Malkin, but this is really nasty.

In short: the NY Times revealed a secret program that monitored bank transactions to track terrorists. The program was not being abused, nor was it illegal. The editor admits this much. Now, the program is no longer useful for monitoring terrorists...since they know about it.

I'm all about whistleblowers when the government is breaking the law. I dont want to see our civil liberties removed in the name of finding terrorists. I don't want to hear about secret prisons, or having people thrown in jail indefinitely. I don't want our government to officially sanction torture and throw out the Geneva Conventions.

But there a line that distinguishes between noble and courageous journalism, and politically-motivated pestering. At some point, no matter whether you support Bush or hate him, Americans need to recognize that we are fighting some sort of a war here. It was bullshit that the NY Times was so eager to throw something anti-Bush out there that they recklessly exposed this secret. I mean, Bush messes up enough as it is; its not like there is a shortage of things to call him out on. So why go with something that was clearly borderline at the time, and in retrospect was outright wrong?

It was partisanship that drove someone in the Bush administation to oust Valerie Plame as a spy, which weakened America's intelligence gathering capabilities. It was also partisanship that motivated the NY Times to jump the gun in this instance. It seems that political victory is most important to some...perhaps for many. Whether we actually stop the extremists must be of lesser importance.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Iran threatens Europe.

The Iranian President has been out of the news lately, no doubt judging the international response to North Korea's nuclear test. Marking 'Jerusalem Day', which is apparently some sort of 'Death to America and Israel' type celebration, he had some words for Europeans:

"It is in your own interest to distance yourself from these criminals (Israelis). This is an ultimatum. Don't complain tomorrow. The Americans are far away, but you are the neighbours of the nations in this region. We inform you that the nations are like an ocean that is welling up, and if a storm begins, the dimensions will not stay limited to Palestine, and you may get hurt."

Evidently Americans, being so far away, are no longer a target of Iranian fury. Thats nice to know. Ahmadinejad reiterated previous positions that Israel has no right to exist, and that its Jewish inhabitants should go back to the countries from whence they came. I'm sure that would go over well.

Sarcasm aside, his words are obviously designed to widen the trans-Atlantic rift. A united West is something that has proven resilient to the threats and actions of such men throughout the course of history. Free and democratic societies, when they band together against authoritarian and genocidal regimes, have proven to be an unstoppable force. It isn't surprising at all that the Mullahs would try to divide the West with such language.

The unsettling thing is that as I sit here, there is a debate in my mind as to whether or not such threats might work against the Europeans.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Time for talks.

Negotiations failed once in Munich many years ago. That does not mean negotiating with an authoritarian regime is forever destined to be a horrible mistake. The time is right to negotiate. Why? Because we are in a position of great strength, and NK is in a position of great weakness. We can get the best deal if we negotiate now.

Yes, Kim Jong Il is on the defensive now. He sees the world allying against him, and his rhetoric is becoming more heated, and more desperate. I mean, the guy is talking about going to war with the United States. That indicates one of two things. Either he is insane, which I dont believe he is. Or he realizes that he is in a position of great weakness right now, and he is trying to appear strong. I'm quite sure that he has read his Sun Tzu. Given that even China and Russia are lining up against him, I'd say it is very likely that Kim is quite nervous right now, and if he hasn't already, he will soon realize he's made a big mistake.

And that is our great opportunity. Someone that is on the defensive simply will not come out and ask for reconciliation. They would fear making obvious the true weakness of their position. However, someone on the defensive will eagerly take an outstretched hand. We need to offer Kim an honorable out from this crisis. We need to give him a way to stand down without looking weak. We should negotiate, because we're in about as strong of a position now as we ever will be - the entire world behind us. We have all the cards. We should play them.

And if Kim slaps our hand away, or if he does turn out to be insane, and picks a fight with the United States, what have we lost? Only the moral low ground.

Friday, October 06, 2006

This is our ambassador to the UN?

"We interpret it very simply. They popped off, we stood up, and they backed down." - John Bolton, US ambassador to the United Nations.

His words were in response to recent diplomatic activity by Sudan. The original position held by the Sudanese was that the pledging of troops by UN member states for a Darfur mission would be considered a hostile act (a "prelude to invasion"). Sudan then apparently reversed its position. Link here.

I've always despised this guy. Maybe its because he looks like a moron with his massive moustache. Honestly though, he couldn't have been less eloquent. No wonder world opinion has turned so strongly against us. Our diplomats are loud-mouthed uneducated assholes. We couldn't find someone else to better represent the US in the most important world body?

Equally disturbing is that the UN is still paralyzed, too intimidated to act against genocide. That is a tragedy. Perhaps it is a good thing that someone finally spoke with strong words towards the Sudanese government? No, its not. Unfortunately, the US isn't in a position to resolve that conflict unilaterally. We're already busy occupying one oil-rich Arab nation. If anything is going to happen in Sudan, its going to be through the UN. And so it doesn't help matters to be so abrasive, as Bolton did.

If however we weren't in Iraq, I'd be all about the quick and violent destruction of that genocidal regime in Khartoum. Never again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The appropriate time for fighting words

is not now.

Fighting words should be reserved for those rarest of situations, when we are about ready to strike with military force. For such a situation to materialize, two conditions both have been met. The first condition is that the crisis is so grave that an armed response is absolutely necessary. The second is that we are capable of dealing with the full repercussions of our attack and are prepared to follow it out to an appropriate conclusion.

In other words, a nation must never attack unless it has no other option, and a nation must never attack if it doesn't know it can win the ensuing conflict - and pyrrhic victories are not satisfactory conclusions.

"North Korea must choose either to have a future or to have nuclear weapons "but it cannot have them both", top US negotiator Christopher Hill said." (BBC)

I'm really not thrilled that North Korea is going to test a nuke. But it doesn't make any sense to speak in threatening language. Consider the two possible scenarios:

1) The US is prepared to launch a military strike, and this is our warning.
This is stupid. We're going to go and attack a nuclear armed nation? Smart. And then what, when the North Koreans retaliate (hopefully in a conventional way)? Escalate the war? Invade? Nuke? Get out of here, these are all shitty options. America should not be responsible for starting a war.

2) The US is not going to launch a military strike, but is rattling its sabers.
Then why the fighting words? Hey, I don't know if anyone noticed, but Kim is one of those leaders that doesn't seem to care about the welfare of his people. He isn't going to back down to US military threats. So making such threats only makes negotiation with him (which is hard enough) even more difficult.

Everyone needs to relax. At the end of the day, we all knew North Korea had nukes. And North Korea is still more rational / deterrable / negotiable than the Iranians are. If North Korea tests its nukes, all its going to do is strengthen our diplomatic position and weaken NK's. If we attack them, the opposite is true. Let Kim test his nuke, and then watch the world stand with America in its strategy of containment, isolation, and sanctions. Eventually NK will crumble. Its a proven strategy. Look at the Soviet Union - did we ever attack them?

And, god forbid, if North Korea ever uses its weapons...nobody can say we didn't try. We can unleash everything we have and ensure the complete destruction of the North Korean government, and we'll have the moral high ground and the backing of the world in doing so.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Another catastrophic failure.

North Korea has announced that it will conduct its first nuclear test, although it has not specified when it will take place. Of course, this is a major setback and serious diplomatic efforts should be made to prevent this test. North Korea's acquisition of nuclear arms is another product of Bush's horrid foreign policy strategies.

We need a diplomatic president in office at a time like this, not a sniveling coward that masquerades as a tough guy.

Historical details of the North Korean diplomatic situation can be found here. A must read.

Monday, October 02, 2006

gogo Independents

Senator Lieberman explains why independents are the fastest growing category of voters.

His multi-millionaire challenger, Ned Lamont, is an opportunist; nothing more. A Lieberman victory is going to be a strong statement against petty partisan stunts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Trent Lott:

"It's hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what's wrong with these people," he said. "Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me."

I wouldn't consider those to be stupid questions if they were asked by my 11 year old sister, to be fair. Is this US Senator really so clueless about world history that he would ask why people kill in the name of religion? Why is he in office?

Here was the first part of that same press release:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush barely mentioned the war in Iraq when he met with Republican senators behind closed doors in the Capitol Thursday morning and was not asked about the course of the war, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, said.

"No, none of that," Lott told reporters after the session when asked if the Iraq war was discussed. "You're the only ones who obsess on that. We don't and the real people out in the real world don't for the most part."

Maybe we wouldn't be losing Iraq if our leadership did obsess over it? Isn't that their fucking job? He went on to assert that real people in the real world didn't care about Iraq. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. We will be greeted as liberators. There is no insurgency. The insurgency is in its last throes. And now, the result in Iraq doesn't matter. Just the latest in a depressing series of profound miscalculations.